As business owners, professionals (and human beings!) we're all guilty of procrastination--even if it takes different forms for all of us.
When I'm avoiding launching a big project, I may look pretty busy, but I'm probably answering low-priority email, or clicking my LinkedIn updates (for the 17th time today) or G-Chatting with my colleagues about...well, nothing critical. I know that presentation is time-sensitive, so why can't I just...get..to...it?
Research shows that people, especially those who are perfectionists, may find themselves putting things off for one powerful reason: they are afraid of failure.
A Dangerous Cycle
York University in Toronto performed a study on 131 people and found that there is a connection between procrastination and perfectionism.
People feel anxious because they are trying to complete their tasks perfectly. To avoid feeling as though there's a pit in their stomach, they decide to finish the task at a different time and never get around to it. Of course, leaving their responsibilities on hold makes them more anxious. It's a dangerous cycle that keeps people from reaching true success.
Why You Rely on Fear
Fear can disguise itself as a helping hand. You might think: if I don't expand my business or hire new employees then I won't let anyone down or be seen as a failure if everything falls through.
It can seem as though you are protecting yourself from defeat or failure by staying in one place. But if you never face your fear of failure, you'll continue to procrastinate and your business will never grow. Confronting your fears will help you accomplish your personal and business goals -- and give you the power to believe in yourself.
How to Change the Way You Think
If you think that fear could be the motive behind your procrastination, it's time to take action to change the way you think. Remember, your greatest discovery could be on the other side of your deepest fear. Try out some of these steps to get started:
- Focus less on what people think and more on what you want to achieve businesswise.
- Stop waiting for the right moment to get started. Pick a deadline for yourself and stick to it. Meeting this deadline will build your self-esteem and remind yourself you are fully capable of taking control of decisions related to your business.
- Use the 80/20 rule. This age-old principle states 80% of your outcomes come from 20% of your inputs. Devote 20% of your time to the tasks you do best. If possible, assign projects that don't fall within your 20% to other employees or outsource them. By focusing on where you excel, you'll be less afraid of failing.